What led to the talent shortage in the accounting industry?

27 Nov 2018  |  
Tags: Outsourcing accounting
What led to the talent shortage in the accounting industry

The UK accounting industry has been experiencing talent shortages for some time now. However, in the last two decades it seems it’s getting even harder for practice owners to find qualified staff. In fact, a study by Robert Walters claims that  70% of accounting and finance hiring managers struggled to attract candidates with the right hard skills or experience.

To get a better understanding of this dilemma let’s first examine the factors which brought about the talent shortage.

Remote workers

The UK employment arena is experiencing unprecedented change. In fact, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) stated that  4.2 million people across a range of sectors worked from home in 2015, and businesses both small and large are increasingly adopting the remote working strategy into their model. This number is expected to rise steadily and by 2020 it’s expected that 50% of the UK workforce will be working remotely

This ongoing increase in remote working poses a problem when it comes to finding good talent to work onsite. In fact, the traditional working style of going to the office from 9 to 5 could soon be on its way out. Technology now enables more professionals to work from where they want and when they want. And more employers are agreeable to let them do it so they can retain the most talented people.    

Gig economy

The UK currently has around 2 million freelancers, which is expected to rise dramatically over the next few years. Global digitalisation and more opportunities to work independently are fuelling the growth of the gig economy.

The growth of the gig economy is encouraged not only by freedom-seeking professionals but also by lean-thinking businesses. Outsourcing tasks and functions to freelance workers provides businesses with more flexibility to control costs, working hours, and resources. 


It’s difficult to imagine that technology could lead to the talent shortages accountants are currently facing, however, this iswhat’s been happening over the last few years. The shifts in technology are now allowing more people to take advantage of freelancing or working remotely.

Working remotely can be quite appealing especially considering all the benefits that come with it. No longer do you have to spend time and money on commuting every day. Parents can now spend more time with their children during the day. And with a reliable Wi-Fi connection you can even sit at the beach and get your work done.

With an increase in remote workers it gets much harder to find qualified employees to do the same role in an office five days a week.


Believe it or not, millennials are having a huge impact on the economy and the workforce in general. They have new attitudes and prominent characteristics that encourage excitement and a bit of resentment from previous generations. According to a 2017 KPMG study, millennials comprise 35% of the UK workforce. And it’s expected that by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce.

A younger dominant workforce with unique ideals and requirements is obviously going to have an impact on businesses and how they are run. Grasping and implementing these changes can take time which unfortunately means good talent could be slipping through your fingers.  

Flexible work arrangements

Gone are the industrial revolution days where men worked a 9 to 5 schedule while women stayed at home and took care of the children. Women are now a crucial part of the workforce and arrangements needed to be made so that they could have a family and also be able to have a career. The role of men in society is also changing. No longer is it taboo for a man to stay at home and take care of the children.

These changes in working styles and expectations means employers also need to adapt and adjust their work arrangements. These changes don’t happen quickly and sometimes even requires a social or legislative shift. Nowadays, an employer who is serious about retaining their staff needs to consider these changes and provide flexible working arrangements.

Moving forward

Talent shortages are still affecting the UK accounting industry, however, there are now more ways to manage them. One method is by utilising outsourcing partners. When you outsource, you’re taking advantage of a huge qualified global talent pool which you never would be able to otherwise.

By setting up an offshore team, practice owners can reduce the amount of talent challenges they face. There are a huge number of qualified CAs, ACCAs and CPAs available across India that are trained to provide high quality accounting outsourcing services.     

At QXAS we’ve combined our customised and flexible approach, outstanding service delivery, specialist knowledge, and experience to become a trusted service provider for our clients. Get in touch with us today for a no-obligation consultation to see if outsourcing can benefit your accounting practice.

About Vishal Kurani

My name is Vishal Kurani, the author of the QXAS blog and I appreciate you stopping by! I help accountants gain Accounts Outsourcing knowledge through my easy to follow blogs and guides. Download my free guide "The Accountants Guide to Making Payroll Profitable" to learn how to make payroll profitable for your accountancy practice.